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Reformist Pezeshkian wins in Iran’s presidential runoff : NPR

Masoud Pezeshkian, one of the two candidates qualifying for the second round of the Iranian presidential election, arrives at a polling station to cast his vote in Tehran on Friday.

SAMAN/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty

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SAMAN/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty

ISTANBUL — Voters in Iran have given a decisive win to reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian in the runoff election to replace late President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash in May.

Iranian president-elect Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon and lawmaker who ran on a moderately reformist platform, was a relatively little-known candidate. But voters turned out in larger numbers than in round one, giving him more than 2.8 million votes over hard-line conservative Saeed Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator with strong anti-West views.

Iranian officials said about 30 million people turned out in Friday’s vote, or about 49.6% of eligible voters, which is considered low for presidential elections. Officials reported that Pezeshkian had received 16.3 million votes to Jalili’s 13.5 million.

Pezeshkian voiced only modest proposals on the campaign trail, showing no inclination to push for significant changes to a government that leaves all important matters of state to Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei.

Pezeshkian will also be facing a government still largely controlled by hard-liners at a time of tensions with the West over a number of issues, including the war in Gaza.

Getting to today’s result

Snap elections were called after the late president Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash on May 19.

Iran’s Guardian Council, charged with vetting candidates, had winnowed down a long list of hopefuls to just six candidate: five hard-line conservatives and one reformist. But two candidates dropped out before the first vote.

On June 28, the first round of presidential elections was held among four remaining candidates: Pezeshkian, Jalili, parliament speaker and former Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a Shia cleric who had served in Iran’s Interior and Intelligence Ministries.

But no candidate received a majority of votes, with Pezeshkian leading with 10.4 million votes while Jalili trailed in second with 9.4 million. They advanced to Friday’s runoff election.

This runoff election was the second presidential runoff in the country’s history. The first took place in 2005, when hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won against former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

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